Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered high-ranking Russian officials living abroad to return home with their families even if their children are in the middle of the school year, Wednesday.
The story first appeared on Russian-language site ZNak and was picked up by the Daily Mail, The Sun, and numerous other news sites warning about an impending military conflict.
“Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad amid heightened tensions over the prospect of global war, it has been claimed.”
The ZNak story sparked a frenzy of media attention, and news outlets worldwide began discussing the possibility of a nuclear conflict between Russia and the U.S. citing worsening relations between the two countries.
There is one big problem, however.
The original story on ZNak isn’t about an impending armed conflict at all, but rather an issue of public relations inside Russia and a discussion on how officials there shouldn’t educate their children in foreign countries.
“Children of the Russian political elite are educated abroad, while their parents (are) on television talking about patriotism and ‘surrounded by enemies.'”
Instead of a news story about an impending WWIII and a military conflict between two nuclear armed powers, the ZNak story reported an informal request from Putin and possible legislation concerning the education of Russian children. The story goes on to describe officials who have been disciplined in the past for allowing their children to become walking anti-Russian advertisements and a failed legislative effort to force young people to be educated in Russia.
It is true that tensions are rising between Russia and the U.S. especially in Syria and Eastern Europe, but panicked reports of an upcoming nuclear war are misguided.
Last week, the Obama administration formally accused Russia of stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee and attempting to interfere with the U.S. election. Then Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the New York Times that Obama was considering a proportional response to Russia’s actions.
“Only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
That’s after former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned the world about a “dangerous point” in the relationship between Moscow and Washington, reports CNN.
“I think the world has reached a dangerous point. This needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue.”
Russia also vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution designed to end the war in Syria after the U.S. accused the country of war crimes in the country for continuing to bomb civilians.
Meanwhile, Russia walked out of a nuclear security meeting citing U.S. aggression and proceeded to transfer Iskander nuclear-capable missiles to the NATO border in Europe along the Baltic coast.
Tensions between Moscow and Washington have been on the rise since 2014 when Russian military jets started buzzing U.S. naval vessels. Diplomats from the two countries then started reporting being harassed and relations worsened, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak told CNN.
“The quality of relations between us is certainly at the lowest point since the Cold War. The risk of miscalculations has increased (especially with NATO forces) being deployed next to our borders.”
Reports of an impending nuclear war between the two countries are exaggerated, however.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently made a speech at a North Dakota Air Force base where he said nuclear war is unlikely and any future military conflict would probably involve a smaller nation like North Korea trying to force the U.S. to abandon its allies, according to Snopes.
“We cannot allow that to happen, which is why we’re working with our allies in both regions to innovate and operate in new ways that sustain deterrence and continue to preserve strategic stability.”
So far there are no official reports of Putin ordering Russian officials or their families to return home in preparation for a military conflict.
[Featured Image by Ivan Sekretarev/AP Images]